NICOLA Sturgeon has admitted her government made mistakes “on all aspects of the handling” of the coronavirus pandemic in the wake of a harrowing BBC film about care homes.

The First Minister said she did not shy away from being ultimately accountable, but insisted all decisions were taken in good faith on the best advice available at the time.

It followed a BBC Scotland Disclosure documentary about a series of failings in the care home sector during the pandemic, including residents not being moved to hospital for treatment, staff not being tested soon enough, and a lack of proper PPE. 

Official Scottish Government advice issued three days after the lockdown began at the end of March advised homes against moving residents to hospital for Covid treatments.

It said: “It is not advised that residents [with Covid] in long term care are admitted to hospital for ongoing management but are managed within their current setting.” 

Donald Macaskill, chief of Scottish Care, which represents the sector, told the BBC that had been “unacceptable, inhumane and a derogation of the duty to protect life”.

Public health expert Professor Allyson Pollock told the BBC the effect of the Government guidance had been to “deny people the care that they needed”, with less than 10 per cent of residents with Covid being transferred to hospital.

The opposition said the film should shame the government.

At the daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon was asked about the film and if care homes in Scotland were “thrown to the wolves”, as a senior MP said of care homes in England.

Ms Sturgeon said the documentary raised “very important issues” but not any she hadn’t already been questioned about in many months of Government briefings.

She said decisions had been taken on care homes and every other aspect of the handling of the virus “in good faith, based on the best evidence and advice that we had at the time”.

She said: “We will have made mistakes on all aspects of the handling, and I refuse to be defensive about that, although I absolutely accept that I am accountable for that.

“But some of the things that people look at now and say were mistakes will be things that are informed now by things we didn’t know then, or didn’t know as clearly then.

“That is in the nature of dealing with an infection like Covid that we haven’t dealt with before and still don’t understood to the fullest extent that we would want to.

“We will all have a need to - and people like me a duty - to learn lessons and to be accountable for every aspect of that and I don’t shy away from that.

“But all of these issues are addressed on an ongoing basis. 

“We have changed certain aspects of how we deal with the pandemic in care homes, as we have changed certain aspects of how we deal with the pandemic in all things, as evidence has changed and developed, and as the advice has changed and developed, and we will continue to do that.

“We know see levels of Covid and numbers of deaths, reflective of the situation across the country, at much much lower levels in care homes and the absolute focus now is to ensure that does not run out of control.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The harrowing testimony of care workers, experts and family members in last night’s BBC Scotland Disclosure programme should shame the Scottish Government into action.

“The human rights of thousands of care residents have been disregarded and government guidance on discharge and access to medical treatment has led to thousands of deaths.

“That over one thousand patients were discharged into care homes in March and April without a testing regime in place is nothing short of a scandal.

“The Scottish Government has failed its duty to protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our society and for this there must be a reckoning.

“Our health and care workers have acted courageously and worked tirelessly throughout this crisis. That care workers have been put in danger due to lack of PPE is a scandal.

“This crisis has exposed the fragmented and dysfunctional nature of Scotland’s care homes.

“The time has come for a National Care Service, to protect the wellbeing of the most vulnerable in our society and to ensure that our heroic care workers receive the pay and conditions that they deserve.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: "This programme has once again exposed the mistakes that were made in the handling of Scotland's care homes and the dreadful toll that this has taken on far too many vulnerable people.

"It's disappointing that the First Minister and Health Secretary refused to be interviewed.

"With the prospect of a second wave of the virus very real, the Scottish Government should announce a rapid inquiry to learn lessons and help us to plan for what is ahead. It is not enough to leave this to inquisitive journalists when so many Scots have already died."